When it comes to pasta, Italy is unrivalled beyond doubt. As the world's biggest producers and consumers – approximately twenty-five kilos per person every year, unexpectedly followed by Tunisians – Italians are probably the only people happy to eat pasta more than once every day.
Always considered (and cooked) as a course on its own and not as a basic carbohydrate to accompany meals as a side dish, pasta – served after entrées and before meat or fish courses – is yet another delicious example of typical Italian inventiveness.
With over 300 different shapes from the most common ones such as spaghetti and rigatoni, to the oddly-named regional varieties of freshly made pasta – and a virtually endless number of possible combinations of ingredients to create both simple or elaborate sauces, there’s never a dull dish.
Here are a couple of recipes, enjoy.
1) Pasta with tomato and basil/coriander
650 grams pasta
450 grams tomatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced white onion
10 basil leaves, or bunch of coriander
4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tsp crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the pasta and set aside after draining the water.
Dip tomatoes into boiling water for about 10 seconds and place in a bowl of ice water for a minute. Remove from ice water, and dry.
Peel and slice the tomatoes.
In a pan, brown onions in olive oil, add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
Fold the boiled pasta into the sauce, add coriander/basil and sprinkle cheese over it. Enjoy.
2) Pasta with eggplant and zucchini
500 grams small cut pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 fresh green onion
1 small eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
3 tablespoons vinegar
200 grams spinach
60 grams feta cheese
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
Black pepper and salt
Heat the oil, add onions and garlic and sauté for a minute, add eggplant, zucchini, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
In a separate pan boil spinach, drain and add to the mixed vegetables.
Now mix pasta, sprinkle coriander, and serve.